Our Visitors Center: A Resource for Missionary Outreach
by Ardyce Nordeen
Vol. 19, Number 2 May/Jun/Jul/Aug 2018 Issue No. 75
Have you heard in the past few months the clarion call to become excited in the church’s One Endeavor? That endeavor is what we have always had as our mission and the goal of the church; that is, to establish the kingdom of God on earth, even Zion. While others in the Christian world preach Jesus, they have missed what the Son of God was pointing us to: that building his Father’s kingdom on the earth is worth everything we have or are or will ever be!
As a part of the One Endeavor, we need to step up our outreach. It is time to take our message, our faith, and our hope to a world that is writhing in the pains of sin and hopelessness. It is time to announce, joyfully and with great gratitude, that our God reigns and that his glorious plan for his kingdom on earth is nearing fulfillment!
We need to be the ones telling the world about the Remnant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints rather than letting others tell what they think we are. An important piece of that outreach will be the Visitors Center at our church headquarters.
There are two components to the Remnant Church Visitors Center. The first is external; we need to tell our own story to the world. While that is important and timely, the other component is, possibly, more critical. This is the internal aspect of what the Visitors Center can and should mean to our church members. We would encourage all who can to see our church video multiple times so that the “big picture” of who and what we are becomes literally ingrained in each of us. We need to be excited about our mission; so much so, that we feel compelled to invite others in. The Visitors Center and the video offer the perfect invitation opportunity for us, but we need to know it for ourselves first.
The church Visitors Center will literally “put us on the map.” Independence is a city rich in heritage and history. As such, it is a draw for many tourists each year. The city provides these tourists with suggestions of places to visit; the Remnant Church Visitors Center should be one of those places. This will give us a mission post here in the Center Place where trained and dedicated volunteers can share the story of the Restoration gospel, from the early 1800s through our day.
Our church video will allow visitors a brief, but significant, overview of our beliefs, our mission, and our service to those in need. This video will be the centerpiece of the Visitors Center. The viewing room has seven screens where the story will appear in picture, song, and words. The presentation has a “surround” effect for our visitors. Immersing those who are seeking in such a presentation will be a wonderful starting place for follow-up questions, discussions, and
one-on-one ministry, which again, will be functions of the Visitors Center complex.
At this time, the video viewing room has been completed. The plans for the rest of the Visitors Center area include a walkway of historical church artifacts in the glass-fronted cases in the hallway that will bring visitors into the center from Maple Street. As visitors move through this hallway, they will be greeted by Visitors Center volunteers at a welcome desk and will have an opportunity to browse through a small bookstore area before proceeding down a ramp (newly constructed to meet ADA guidelines) into the lower level.
In the lower room, next to the video viewing room, we want to have a history wall, which will be a digital presentation of the Restoration story. There will also be two or three question and answer kiosks where visitors may access pre-recorded answers to questions about our faith and doctrine on small touchscreens. There will be appropriate artwork on walls and seating available in both the welcome hallway and lower level.
The plans to complete all this work have been divided into three more phases. Phase one, which will allow us to open to the public, will be to construct a new ramp, to revise the existing restroom facility to accommodate separate men’s and women’s restrooms, and to finish the front hallway displays, the welcome station, and bookstore areas.
Phase two will include the creation and installation of the digital screen history wall where we can present the story of the Restoration from Joseph Smith’s vision down to the present-day endeavors of the church. This phase will also allow the installation of the question and answer kiosks where answers to common questions about the church will be pre-recorded on video. Visitors will be able to select from a menu of these questions and then view and listen to the explanations and answers.
Finally, in phase three, we will complete a new parking lot on the Maple Street side of the headquarters building, pending city approval. This will include a ramp entrance into the building and a covered wagon memorial, representing the gathering in of the saints, on the corner of Union and Maple Streets.
For any undertaking there is always a cost to be considered. For this effort, it is measured in both time and money. We have those who are willing to dedicate their time and skills to construct the Visitors Center as the funds are available. Waiting for funds to come in creates costs in other ways: lack of potential growth for the church and the possible loss of souls who would hear, see, and believe, given the opportunity. The Lord will surely bless us as we seek to further our witness to the world in his name.
Creating a center designed and dedicated to the telling of our own story, a missionary post in the Center Place, a strength to our own membership, and a literal doorway for growth in our numbers; all of these are elements of the potential for the Visitors Center. Help us make it a reality! (Donations can be made to the General Fund of the church with a note indicating the desire to support the Visitors Center.)